You Don’t Need Discipline to Create Good Habits


Tom Corley boats - crop

I am often asked how important discipline is when it comes to habits.

Discipline is fueled by willpower. When you run out of willpower, discipline is impossible. Willpower is at its greatest immediately upon waking up after a good night’s sleep. It begins to fade away after about two hours of focused activity, also known as work.

When willpower starts to fade, it’s time for a nap, snack or relaxation time. These things restore willpower, which in turn permits you to engage in activities that require discipline.

If, however, the main ingredient for habit formation was discipline, very few would have habits, since discipline is fueled by willpower, which is always in short supply.

Thankfully, habits are not dependent on discipline. Habit formation is actually easy, if you know the shortcuts:

Shortcut #1 Habits By Association – Habits spread like a virus within your social network. If you want to forge specific habits, hang around people who have the habits you desire.

Shortcut #2 Habit Stacking – Think of an existing habit as a train on a track, except it’s inside your brain. If you add your new habit to that same train, as if it were a new passenger, the brain won’t put up a fight because you’re not trying to take control of the train or the track. You’re just taking a ride. When an old habit does not perceive a new habit as a threat, it does not wage war against the formation of that new habit.

Shortcut #3 Make it Easy – It is far easier to change your habits if you start with small habits. Small habit change involves adding habits that require very little effort. Examples include drinking more water during the day, taking vitamin supplements or listening to audio books while you commute to work. Small habit change also includes cutting back on existing bad habits. Examples include reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, reduce T.V. watching by thirty minutes each day or reducing Facebook or Internet use to less than an hour a day. The smaller, easier the habit change, the higher the probability that it will stick. Small habit change gives you momentum and increased confidence. This allows you to take on bigger, more complex habit changes in the future.

Shortcut #4 Accountability Partner – Find someone with the habit you desire and make them your Accountability Partner. For example, let’s say you want to lose weight and decide to take up jogging. Do you know anyone in your community who jogs? If yes, then ask them if you could be their running partner. Jogging is transformed into a personal commitment – you will be less apt to forgo jogging when you know your new running partner is waiting for you at the park.

Shortcut #5 Change Your Environment – A change in environment is a great opportunity to change habits. Going to a gym puts you in a new environment. Going away somewhere on vacation puts you in a new environment. New home, new job, new relationships, etc. give birth to new environments.

Shortcut #6 Make It Hard – If you want to stop engaging in any habit, make it harder to do so. Example: If you have a habit of snacking on Doritos while watching TV, then stop buying Doritos

Shortcut # 7 Make it Unpleasant – If you want to stop engaging in any habit, make it unpleasant to do so. Example: If you have the time wasting habit of watching too much TV, then make TV watching less pleasant – change your subscription package so that the shows you normally watch are no longer available to you.

Shortcut #8 Make it Pleasant – If you’d like to forge a new habit, reward yourself every time you engage in the habit. The reward can be very small, but it needs to be meaningful. Example: You forgo smoking cigarettes for the day and reward yourself with your favorite meal for dinner.

Shortcut #9 Pursue Something You Are Passionate About – When you pursue something you are passionate about, you will forge habits that are associated with your passion. For example, when I decided to write my first book, Rich Habits, I needed to wake up before 5am in the morning, as that was the only available time I had. That waking up early habit stuck. To this day, I wake up before 5am just about every morning.

When it comes to habit change, discipline is overstated in terms of importance. When you know the shortcuts to forging new habits and abandoning bad habits, habit change is easy.

My mission is to share my unique research in order to help others realize their dreams and achieve their goals. If you find value in these articles, please share them with your inner circle and encourage them to Subscribe. Thank You!

Be Sociable, Share!
Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
| Download Media Kit

Speak Your Mind